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Ann Philbin Re-Envisions Los Angeles’ Vibrant Art Scene

What does it take to turn a sleepy museum in Westwood Village into the talk of the town? The answer is – “a new visionary”. In 1999, that visionary woman was Ann Philbin. She left her ten-year position as the director of New York’s Drawing Center to come to Los Angeles with a passion and purpose to reveal one of the city’s greatest hidden gems.

Philbin was eager to transform the museum’s image and attract a new generation of art lovers and did so by developing programming to accommodate the interests of the urban art scene. She founded the museum’s Hammer Contemporary Collection as well as the Hammer Projects Series, which focuses on emerging artists.

During one of my conversations with her, Philbin beamed with pride as she talked about Los Angeles’s vibrant artistic community. Many people may not know this, but Los Angles has become the mecca for emerging artists, more so than New York or Berlin. Capitalizing on the strength of Los Angeles’s artistic community, she envisioned a bold and ambitious enterprise.

Last year The Hammer Museum joined forces with nonprofit gallery LAX ART and the Department of Cultural Affairs to hold the first ever Los Angeles Biennial called Made in LA. Unlike the well-known Whitney Biennial, Made in LA had a regional focus: about 60 artists, some marquee and many emerging or lesser-known artists, were participating in this enterprise.

Made in LA was an overwhelming success: local artists had a prestigious platform to showcase their work, and the community was abuzz with the influx of the new artistic energy put on display.

Today the Hammer features contemporary artists, holds short film festivals, readings, lectures and debates six days a week. It’s safe to say Ann Philbin’s vision for turning the space into a cultural hub and gathering place for artists, students, and enthusiasts has been realized.

We look forward to having her participate on “Women in the Arts” Panel in our summit on November 7th.

From UCLA to Books to the Philharmonic–Los Angeles Events

This week burst forth with a number of incredible events– back to back.  Of course the one I hold most dear to my heart was the celebration for the opening of the UCLA Younes & Soraya Nazarian Center for Israel Studies.  Some of you may be familiar with the names; my in-laws have been a great example of philanthropists who put their energy and resources into the projects they care for.  After 5 years of coordination with UCLA and the UC Regents, UCLA now has an official Israel Studies Program–the first such center on the West Coast and one of three in the nation that are named and endowed.  We were so proud to celebrate the opening of the center at Chancellor Gene Block’s residence, with 2 previous chancellors attending.  Three hundred guests came in support!

The following day, on Wednesday, a very elegant book party took place at the famous “Schnabel House” with guest of honor Frank Gehry.  In fact the Schnabel house has been designed by Gehry and is showcased  in Assouline’s ” Living Architecture:Greatest American Houses of the 20th Century”.  It was a real high point to meet and talk to him and to tour this very unique and sculptural house.

I have a link here that shows some pictures of the house:

Speaking of Frank Gehry designed spaces, the following night, David and I went to the opening gala of the Philharmonic at the Frank Gehry designed Disney Hall.  Most Angelenos know that Dudamel is the rock star of the philharmonic and last night was sublime!  Juan Diego Florez, who is known as the tenor of choice in major international theatres joined the orchestra last night. What an astonishing voice! No wonder he is booked through 2015 at most major Opera houses.  What can I tell you….last night was a real treat!